Failure to Signal 2 Billion Times a Day: or, Beating Your DUI Resulting from a Failure to Signal

Recently released information the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) that claims that close to 2 million accidents are caused by drivers neglecting to appropriately use turn signals annually. The report also suggests close to 50% of drivers neglect to use a turn signal when changing lanes or forget to turn them off in a timely manner. This translates into approximately 2 billion turn signal violations each day or 750 billion times each year, according to the SAE.

This raises a serious issue in my DUI Defense practice.  Because I regularly represent those accused of driving impaired, I have seen the ill effects of this statistic from the point of view of those charged with a crime.  Washington law requires that drivers not only signal before changing lanes, but to do so several hundred feet in advance.  All too often, those charged with DUI, or other criminal charges, are stopped for this very reason.  This report gives more credence to a successful pretext defense in a traffic stop.  Under Washington case law, an officer may not stop a driver for an infraction wholly unrelated to the purpose of the contact (e.g., an officer in Washington State stopping a vehicle for a small lane violation because he thinks the suspect vehicle may contains drugs and without another way to make lawful contact, may well do so illegally).

Pretext stops happen with some frequency.  I have successfully argued for cases to be dismissed based on these types of unlawful stops.  If you have questions about this or your DUI or other criminal case, feel free to give us a call for a free consultation.


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